PROLOGUE: The Space Race is brought to The Diet

tasnica
william_penn
transdimensional_grand_tour
tasnicaport
abdiel_zion
diamond
mana_dimension

#1

The historic Diamond building stood out in the skyline of Downtown Tasnicaport in the same way it did from the rest of the Tasnican AAA corps, somewhat distant from the heart of the city and broadly facing the harbor towards parts unknown. The domed plaza complex at its base supported a tower that visually appeared as a series of glass cylinders each one twice as tall as the one before, and each with rooftop garden. The diamond line stopped through its ground floor on its loop to the harbor and back to central Tasnicaport.

In the days when space travel was still in its infancy, the Diamond corporation would run entirely out of the building. In those passing years the amount of trans-dimensional travel involving space gates increased. Because of that, satellite offices were implemented, business centers to focus on dimensional market needs were concentrated off core worlds, and factories were built and managed in space colonies. The Diamond building became a vacant husk.

However, the old Diamond building made a second metamorphosis by the time Will Penn had ordered his chai goat milk tea from the kiosk in the Diamond Plaza. The staple of Tasnican culture, self-identity through brand identification, had permeated to the area surrounding the complex–it had become known as Diamond Burrough. The people of the fringe worlds, who over a generation became more familiar with the Diamond brand then their greater behemoths of commerce who held domain over most of the core worlds, started to view the diamond building as a romanticized destination in their wanderlust. This became more popularized by the diamond employees of the fringe, who begun to buy timeshares and condos in the nearby buildings to boast about their second home near the corporate HQ.

The Diet at the Diamond Building began occurring like most things at Diamond, organically as a weak concept that rebuilt itself over time into something stronger. As many employees were in Tasnicaport during the small regular divisional meetings, meetings rooms were constantly overbooked, and discussions were often delayed over bad video connections and lack of bandwidth. A plan was devised to change several floors into massive conference halls, but given enough growth, even that seemed to not be enough when it came to the company all-hands meetings.

After some hand wrangling between corporate divisions, the old underground warehouses beneath the Diamond building, large enough to hold several of their seraphim machines, were converted into a stadium-sized auditorium. The diamond building itself became a defacto convention center for all things Diamond. And it became a regular event that once every month, the building would house in person as many employees as possible for the corporate meeting.

It was on the 71st Diet of the Diamond Corporation that Will Penn, the tall, handsome-faced fish-like priman from Alter-Dragon, was going to be the first speaker of the day. Unlike other executives at his level, the trek was still a chore for him, and not a temporary vacation. As he made his way through the plaza to the stadium entrance, his thumbed through the handheld cautiously to make sure his deck was in order for the presentation. He would be addressing thousands of employees, but it never really made him feel anxious. Will always kept things simple and small. Big things were always only lots of small things.

There was a table on a stage of about two dozen executives and company notables. The Diet itself lasted around two and a half hours. Each person on stage were allowed five minutes to give their update. Certain faces were almost always present each week. Will waved at his friend Paul Kuvallan as the two sat down next to each other on the stage.

“Thanks for inviting me to the wedding. I’m sure I’ll get to see more of those in the future for work, but the organic experience of it was delightful.” spoke the plastic-faced avatar. His appearance for the Diet was of a handsome talking manakin and not a fleshy robot.

“Glad you enjoyed. I flushed out the race idea we were talking about–should be fun if the big guy goes for it.”

“We’ll find out shortly. You lost the round robin, so you’re up first.”

Will tilted his head and raised a fishy brow, “wait, what round robin?”

The auditorium went dimmed, and the spotlights went bright on the stage. A logo flashed across the billboard-sized screen behind them, followed by an animated map highlighting all the cities, planets, colonies and dimensions the company had established itself in.

A cheer erupted as a holographic image of a man became visible on the stage. The man was once a contracted security guard for the company but then volunteered to become a test subject and ultimately pilot for their growing aerospace division. Because of an untimely corporate assassination of the Company’s founder and CEO, he had inherited a large amount of stock from the founder of Diamond as a safety measure which made him a de-facto board member. As a matter of duty of his fallen former boss and friend, this man then convinced enough of the staff and management to vote in line with him in an internal corporate coup to make him the new CEO. It had also helped that a skunkworks R&D prisoner-to-pilot rehabilitation project had gone awry, causing the murder of several prominent opposing executives at the time.

“Oh Hey guys!” The thirteen-foot tall hologram of Abidel Zion smiled and waved enthusiastically. His long white and blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail and his signature blue suit seemed looser on him in recent appearances. “Oh wow, full house today. Glad you all could make it!”

The man gave a big grin, his crow’s feet folded upwards as his toothy smile delighted the crowd. “Sorry I’m not there in person, but yeeaaaay giant holographic me is fun, right?”

“Anywhoo not much on my end, still working out some logistical things outside here colonyside. We’ll just keep it quick today, give you guys more time to enjoy the weather out there in Tasnicaport. A little birdy told me Will from Relations had a few things for us to start the day. Is that right Will?”

The priman smiled and waved to the assembly, having stood from his desk and walking center stage. “Yup, that’s right Abe! For my five I’d thought we’d play a little game of one-minute elevator pitch. So, as you all know, Diamond supports our peacekeepers, everywhere–”

“Mhmm. Peacekeepers, everywhere.” echoed the oversized hologram.

“–and one of our long-time friends, the GAC Alliance–”

“Gack Alliance,” quipped Zion.

“–are looking for partners in spreading public goodwill, notably in celebrating advancements in space and spaceflight.”

“Ah, I can see where we come in then. Diamond has always been on the forefront of space trade and travel.”

“Very true Abe!” spouted Will, thumbing through his deck to the next screen. It showed a diamond freighter escorted by a squad of seraphim. It was a doctored photo the priman had used several times in multiple publications. The original dilapidated Seraphim-T machines in the photos were replaced with malakim quality seraphim-Rs.

“So I have a few options, and I have one that’s a little out there, but… I think you may like it.”

“Oh sounds interesting. What’cha got for us?”

“Well, the first is what the GAC Alliance pitched to me, “ he spoke as he tapped his thumb to show the next slide in his presentation, “which is a series of concerts and gallery exists to tour around the web of worlds, sponsored by Diamond. We can showcase some of our new products–the latest ar shades, some of our fashion lines, throw out some sweepstakes tickets in our consumables. We’re already in talks with Vermillion, Alter-D, Pappa Zora to headline.”

The next slide showed a massive Zora in a tank top covered in brandings and tribal scarring screaming into a microphone on a black backdrop.

“Oh, my kid loves Papa Zora! We can definitely do that—but I feel you’re holding out on us with such little time. What’s the one-two punch here Will?”

The green scales on the priman shine as he beamed a wide smile to the hologram. Quickly skipping a slide about public art installations.

“Well, we have our concerts, we have public art installations and gallery exhibits, but if you’re willing Zion, we’re thinking bigger. We’re thinking a complete trans-dimensional competition like we haven’t done in a decade. We’re thinking… a space race!”

Will flashed up a logo the design team had put together for him only hours before. THE TRANS-DIMENSIONAL GRAND TOUR.

“The details can still be worked out, but what better way to promote space flight among the web of worlds by retracing those steps stage by stage across all galactic dimensions. We’re thinking bare minimum sponsor a few ship companies that use our parts, as well as showcasing some of our new designs, and broadcast the race trans-dimensionally.”

“Oh Wow. I love it! Hey Will–let’s open the war chest on this one. Get behind it fully, spare no expense. Whenever we did a Robotics Tournament back in the day, we ended the year with exponential growth. Get all the division in on this one., let’s make it happen by the start of next quarter. This should be low hanging fruit for us.”

“Sound Great Zion. I’ll go ahead and start contacting our partners right–”

“Partners, rivals, old markets, new markets–open it to everything and everyone! Doesn’t matter if we win or lose, I think our friends at the GACA could use a favor. Things have been steady but stagnant for so long. We need to foster a rebirth of passion for growth and change. Showcase the best of us.”

The assembly broke out in cheer. Will Penn stood silently on the stage and gave a soft smile. In the back of his mind, the began to try and fathom the magnitude of what just happened. Not only was his pitch approved, but he was given a blank checkbook by one of the richest men in all the web of worlds, and the rally of an organization which expanded across the universe. He felt a dual pair of shivers going down his lateral lines he hadn’t felt before–a burst of nervousness.

“Thanks Zion. I’ll let the GACA know our position and get the ball rolling.”

“Excellent. Hey Will?”

“Yes?”

The massive hologram of Abdiel Zion leaned slightly to the side, making an outline of heart with his fingers. “You get a heart for the day. Little Milton taught me this one. Hashtag just MPZ things.”


PROLOGUE: Muses Musing at a Rooftop Wedding